By now, you surely know that our good friends Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn won’t be applying their craft for the hockey team based in Nashville. The fallout (BAD PUN) from the two offensive additions going out too late before their poor performance in game 2 (aside from AK’s awesome goal, which is even more awesome considering he was lighting up Scottsdale the night before) punched their ticket out of town. No new news here.
With the team souring on Andrei (which is unfortunate, the guy did play well), perhaps there is a benefactor in this. His name? Colin Wilson.
Wilson’s stats don’t jump out especially, but his pace was similar to Sergei’s. Wilson’s goals per game percentage is a virtual mirror to the Belorussian (both 0.22), and assists have a slight edge to Sergei, even though Kostitsyn had the luxury of playing with Mike Fisher (who had his second best season in his career) and Martin Erat virtually all season. Wilson bounced around between the second and third lines, being centered by David Legwand during the good times, and Nick Spaling during the stretches he was bumped to the third line.
For some reason, Sergei Kostitsyn receives a massive “get out of jail free” card from most fans. Sure, he’s getting better slowly, and is paying major dividends seeing how he was acquired for Dan Ellis’s RIGHTS and Dustin Boyd, who was last seen playing hockey in Kazakhstan. Sergei is improving on defense, and has shown flashes of being a top line winger. But, is he top line talent? No, and there’s nothing wrong with that. He’s top six, but after seeing him regressing in the playoffs (again), I’m more inclined to think he’s closer to his ceiling than Wilson is to his.
Predetermined expectations skew everything. For instance, look at the NBA- where a number #1, #4, and another #4 draft pick are leading their team versus a team with a #2, #4, and #3 overall draft pick. (If you didn’t know that LeBron James was the #1 pick, you couldn’t tell which team is which) While the latter team is just as good on paper and in construction, if the Heat (former team) don’t win it will be a colossal failure due to the expectations set forth by the media, and fans (also due to the athletes themselves, but that’s another issue). Sergei came
to town on a second chance and for a cheap price, Wilson was drafted high after a superb college showing, and was rushed to the top line alongside Arnott and Erat against the Blackhawks in the playoffs. Wilson wasn’t given the time and space to develop that he needed. We expected more of Colin Wilson, all of us- management included. No one expected Sergei to light up Nashville, so when he chipped in 23 goals last year, it was a superb surprise and he became a fan/coach favorite.
Wilson outperformed Sergei in the playoffs this year in their small sampling, and it’s not even close. Sergei didn’t bring his A-game for April and May, and was flat out exposed against Phoenix. Wilson didn’t thrive either, but he looked more like the top line forward between the two, and that’s with Wilson playing much of the time with third and fourth liners.
The strength of this team, regardless of whatever Ryan Suter’s heart and desires, is the young depth on both sides. I would love to see both of these kids return, but count me on the apparent short list of fans who would rather see Wilson get his time up front than Sergei.